It’s horrifying the number of times I have been mistaken for a pregnant person. For the record, I have never been pregnant.
The first time it happened I was just finishing my sophomore year of college. I went to the chiropractor for my weekly visit and as I prepared to lie down on the table and have my back adjusted, the doctor politely asked when I was due. My brain slowed for a moment, acknowledging the hideous blow I’d just received while simultaneously hoping that I had heard the wrong word. What other word or phrase could sound like “When are you due?”
My brain and I came to the conclusion that there was no other explanation except that my ample girth had been mistaken for a growing fetus. At this point the heat began to make itself known on my face and the words, “I’m not,” fumbled out of my mouth, while I stared at the floor. The doctor tried to backtrack and say it was a standard question he asked everyone. I don’t really recall much after that because my world suddenly seemed very loud.
Later, I remember barging into my apartment that I shared with my best friend, Emily. She looked at me wide-eyed as I stood there, my body shaking in a hell-fire rage. Without even entering the room, I enunciated each word for effect, “My. Chiropractor. Thought. I. Was. Pregnant!” I screeched.
At first she couldn’t fathom—as is Emily’s style to believe the absolute best in the world—that such a blunder could occur. She insisted I had heard him wrong. No, no, I assured her I could not have misheard the words, “When are you due? “, which had been ringing in my ears ever since they had been uttered.
We went outside and sat on the curb in the warm spring sunshine to talk and I remember wailing that I couldn’t go on this way; I had to make a change and I felt in my very existence that the chiropractor’s mistake was my wake-up call. I would never again be misconstrued as so fat that I was with child. That would never happen again. (It would actually happen three more times).
It did prompt me to join Weight Watchers that summer and lose 44 lbs, but then when I got back to school, my dedication tapered off and I gained 50 lbs back.
The other three times people asked me about being pregnant it was a smidgen less painful, but all still very unpleasant experiences. My mind reeled with how this kept happening. Was it flattering that I looked like a regular person who might be having a baby? Or was it, like the first time, just deeply insulting and a sign that I once again needed to lose weight?
It was definitely a sign I needed to lose weight, obviously, but unlike the first time, it lost some of its punch the subsequent times.
Sure I reacted in much the same way, jaw-dropping horror, storming home and yelling at the injustice of the world or calling my best friend crying. After the second and third times I felt compelled to try out for “The Biggest Loser“ so I would never make it to a fourth time of being mistaken for a pregnant woman. I even said this in my interview with the producers (who knows if that was my golden ticket to make the show, or maybe it was just my award-winning personality).
But a year later having gained a lot of weight back (in my midsection, where I always gain my weight) I sat in a salon cooing over a newborn baby seated next to an adoring man, when he smiled at me and asked when I was due.
That time I think I just wanted cookies and to kill someone. Preferably him, but he did have a new baby so that seemed a tad harsh. Though, maybe if I had been allowed to shave off his eyebrows or destroy his haircut, effectively ruining his salon day like he’d ruined mine, I might’ve felt some solace. I didn’t start a diet the next day or even the next week. I was simply numb at this point and a little stupefied that this continually was asked about me. When are you due?
I share all this, not because I have finally had some grand moment of awakening much like the first time this despicable incident occurred, but because as bad as it was to feel the sting of this scab being ripped open multiple times, I have acknowledged that the universe can be quite shocking, but it’s never without good intention.
I have learned through multiple defeats that I somehow always manage to get myself back to the top. At least I try again. I have never said to the world, “You have bested me.” Obviously people think I am pregnant, so I may as well give them what they want and keep eating. Nope, I have not done that.
Today I did a lot of burpees in my workout. Burpees are the worst. The worst. For those unfamiliar, burpees look like this:
After many a burpee where I could hardly hold myself up anymore, much less do the little jump at the end, I started to feel a little weepy and panicked, which is pretty much the usual in Alpha class. It’s so hard, my muscles wept as they shook and gave out, over and over again. But my mind had decided this course of action would be followed through, not just the burpees, but Alpha, the extra cardio, the Paleo diet, the clean eating, the de-toxing from my sugar-addled brain, all of it. And though I ached and hated every minute (at least I hated the burpees and lack of coffee), I felt certain I could persevere.
Surely if I could be “pregnant” four times, I could do this weight-loss thing once more.